Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Flying Toys & a Fat Lip

Well here we are again - and this time I feel even less like I know what I'm doing in this world of raising a very spirited, sweet, strong-willed little BOY.  In this post I talked about how I'm trying to figure it all out when it comes to disciplining our son.  That was almost exactly two months ago and let's just say...we are still learning.  

In fact, this past Saturday can be summed up as one big, fat learning curve when it comes to the behavior of our child.  He perplexes me because he is so quick to change between emotions.  He will literally be happy one minute, then frustrated to the point of anger the next.  What to do with that anger is the big challenge at the moment.  He's having difficulty learning how to share and take turns without throwing toys, pulling/pushing, or grabbing.  Some part of me gets it because, let's face it, sharing is not a natural human desire.  Even we adults want what is ours most of the time.  If it weren't for our parents and siblings enforcing these social niceties onto us as youngsters, we might not choose to share either.  Heck, I know some adults who still do refuse to share, even if they were taught that they should.       

None of that really matters though because we want our child to learn how to share, and to have manners and be a polite young man.  Those things are extremely important to us as his parents so we will keep on fighting the good fight until the lesson sinks in.  Helping him learn  how to effectively express his anger is much harder than they make it sound in the books or in articles I've read online.  I've tried showing him how to hit the couch pillows, or to give me a hug instead of throwing toys. Michael has tried teaching him how to give a high five when what he really wants to do is hit.  Sometimes it works but usually only after he has already reacted in the negative way that we are trying to avoid.  I realize he's young yet and maybe all this needs is more time and more consistency on our part but I will tell you what...this phase of him testing every limit and sometimes outright refusing to cooperate is exhausting.  Exhausting & physically painful, too.  

On Saturday night, he had already had two time-outs for throwing toys but we were at a house party and there wasn't a good place for me to put him that was away from everyone but not scary for him.  The third time he got mad resulted in a fat lip for yours truly.  You can see it if you look closely at the photo to to the right.  When the piece of wooden train track went zinging into my lip, it was pretty shocking.  I got rather mad at the little dude but hopefully I handled the situation at least reasonably well.  I made him sit down between my feet for a minute, then I took him to the mirror and showed him my lip. I said, "Look Charlie, you did that when you threw your toy, that really hurt Mommy." At that point he looked a little sheepish & said, "No not a do dat" & looked away. Then I took him to Michael & walked away.       

I've been reviewing the evening over and over in my head.  It's so, so hard to be that parent...the one whose kid is out of control.  There were a lot of kids there & they were all getting tired.  Charlie himself, was tired after an afternoon birthday party & this evening house party, but still...there are only so many justifications and excuses that can be made for the kind of behavior he was exhibiting.  One fellow mom did make me feel a lot better with the following statement:

"I've had several kids with this type of personality and our job as parents isn't to "squash" it, but to "mold" it. These stubborn, angry kids are the kids who will be our future leaders. It's okay to get angry...we have to teach them that how they react to that anger is what is important."

She at least made me feel like I'm somewhat on the right track with trying to help Charlie learn how to be mad, instead of just spanking or whatever.  I know spanking is a controversial topic & it's not one I intent to delve into here but I just don't see how hitting him could possibly convey the strong, positive message we want to send him.  For the time being, I guess we'll just keep on keeping on & keep on reminding our little boy of the things we feel are important& the values we want him to embrace.  




Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Adoption Institute

How did I get to this point in our adoption journey without knowing about this web site?  I was listening to a recent NPR Talk of the Nation story about transracial adoption and they had the author of this web site on the show as a resource person.  Very interesting.  I'm still perusing but wanted to share for those of you who might find it useful!



Negative Connotations

A couple times in the past week-and-a-half or so, I have literally cringed as I've heard the following statements:

"No, no don't eat the brown ones, those are yucky,"

"The green ones need water, if they don't get water they will shrivel up and turn brown like the other ones."

And from "My Many Colored Days"" a beloved children's book by Dr. Seuss:  "Some days, of course, feel sort of brown.  Then I feel slow and low, low down." 

As the mother of a beautiful, brown boy, these things have raised questions for me.  What am I supposed to do when our son starts making connections about the color of his skin and the negative connotations associated with that color?  Frankly, they are everywhere once you start noticing them.  Brown and black both have some very strongly negative associations.  In our daily dealings with our little one, we do (and have always) incorporated as many positive connotations surrounding these colors as we can.  For example, I will say, "Look at that beautiful, brown belly...I'm gonna' give it some kisses!" when I'm changing  his diaper, amongst other things.  But he is at a critical age right now.  He is listening and picking up on everything we (and others) say as he tries to make meaningful connections about our world. 

I don't think he has been harmed by any of these negative statements...yet.  It's a tough realization for me that there will come a time when I won't be able to protect him from the flaws of our society, and from the things other people say.  I've read "My Many Colored Days" hundreds of times over the years but only recently did I give any serious thought to the brown page.

I'm not even really sure where to go with this, it's just one my mind and something I need to think about more.  There are some obvious things we can do, like make sure positive associations are made and reinforced whenever possible, especially within his everyday environments.  Still though, this is one of those things that sort of caught me off guard.  It simply wasn't something I ever had any reason to think about before.  Now it is and I don't quite know what to think...